April 15, 2003
Click on the pictures!

An Early morning view of Mt. Chapin, Chiquita & Ypsilon.

The Big Thompson River in Moraine Park.

A small pool just off of the Cub Lake Trail.

Another seasonal pool.

Another small pond just off of the Cub Lake Trail.

A couple of Ducks enjoying a swim.

Another pond further up the trail.

Thick, shady forests of Ponderosa Pine lines part of the trail.

Aspen forest a little up the snow covered trail.

The shoreline of Cub Lake.

A group of ducks relaxing on the surface of Cub Lake.

The first group of flowers I spotted this Spring.

The water-logged trail on the way back from Cub Lake..

Cub Lake Trail.

Being my first time into the National Park in about three weeks, I was pretty excited about hitting the trail. I really wasn't sure where I wanted to go. I wanted to avoid using snowshoes, if at all possible, and I wanted to be near a lot of water. So, Cub Lake popped into my mind. This is a very popular trail, especially in the Summer months, because it is an easy trail, fairly short, and takes you to a wonderful Lake. However, I enjoy this trail more during the Spring and Fall months. There are less people, a lot more water, and much more wildlife. This trail also tends to be very hot and dusty in the Summer. So, I made up my mind to head to Cub Lake.

I arrived at the trailhead at around 7:15 on April 15, strapped on my pack (with snowshoes attached, just in case), and headed down the trail. It started out as a cool morning, with small puddles wearing a thin layer of ice. But the day warmed up nicely, and I was down to just a tee shirt by the time I got back to the trailhead.

It was nice to see the Big Thompson River with so much water flowing. I stopped at the first foot bridge to watch all of the water rush underneath, and to just soak in the beautiful morning. Up the trail about a quarter of a mile, some of the seasonal lakes had already formed at the west end of Moraine Park. I left the trail for a bit, and spent some time exploring these large ponds. These, in the Summer, are usually bone dry, but this time of year they are a gathering place for all kinds of wildlife. Just in my short walk around these ponds, I saw Coyote, Elk, Ground Squirrels, and many types of Birds.

Without the typical Winter winds, it was a very still morning. You can see how smooth the surface of these ponds are, providing for some great reflections of the surrounding scenery.

After taking a few minutes to enjoy these ponds, I continued along the trail. With all of the snow we have received in the past month, and all of the recent warm weather, water was everywhere. The trails was often only mud, and Cub Creek was running bank full. This, apparently, makes a great home for ducks. I was surprised by the number of of duck I saw along the trail. I must have seen 150, if not more. The two in the picture didn't mind me being there, but most of the others were very skittish, and got as far away from me, as fast as they could.

After watching the ducks for a while, and snapping some more pictures, I continued up the trail. At this point, the trail winds through some thick, forested areas. It was a beautiful morning, and the sun was just creeping through the tree tops, just beginning to light the forest floor. The light gave the forest a very warm, and clean feeling. It always seems that way to me though, once the snow begins to melt away for the season.

Up the trail another half mile, snow still covered the ground, and was actually quite deep at times. In some spots where you could see that people fell through, there was still over three feet on the ground. It was packed down enough, and cold enough, that I wasn't falling through, so my snowshoes stayed on my back.

The rest of the trail passed uneventfully. Once I got to Cub Lake, there were another thirty, or so, ducks taking a nap on the thin layer of ice that remained on top. I sat on a log, had a sip of water, and watched as a few of their friends flew in, and everyone went for a cold swim. It was pretty funny to watch. They all seemed to get overly excited, and happy, when the others arrived.

On the trail back, I decided to take a slight detour. I climbed up a ridge to the north of the trail, to have a look down, onto the Fern Lake Trail. While I was wondering around up there, I came upon the first Wildflowers of the season, at least the first for me. I don't know exactly what kind they are. The closest I could find is called the Snow Buttercup. These being characterized by actually breaking through the snow into a full bloom before any other flowers even begin to make their appearance. So, I guess these could very well be Snow Buttercups. Seeing these little flowers got me excited for this Summer. To me, there is not much better than walking through the Tundra and enjoying the millions of Wildflowers scattered around. This just fanned the flame. But, we still have a couple of months before the snow melts off of the high peaks, and it gets warm enough for everything to start growing up there.

After taking a few photos of the group of flowers, I headed back to the trailhead. This was the first time I have ever hiked to Cub Lake without seeing another person at all. It was a great first "hike" of the year, and I'm ready for more.

 

Until next time.......